Is Baker Mayfield the New Peyton Manning?

Baker Mayfield is coming into his own.

No, not as a football player – he’s still a middling QB that we can’t tell if he’s good or not. No, Baker is becoming the next best thing – the sports world’s commercial king, a role long held by one of the NFL’s best ever in Peyton Manning.

Most athletes who have endorsements do only that – endorse. Few make the leap to actually act (although the This Is SportsCenter commercials have proven that it can and should be done more often).

Baker Mayfield has had no trouble jumping in to his role playing a fictional version of himself for his Progressive commercials (not only is Mayfield taking the torch from Manning in the commercial world, he’s taking over the insurance game).

One could argue that it’s easy to pretend to be you, though trying to be yourself on stage or screen is often difficult, since most people don’t think about or truly know who they are – and therefore how to be a fictional version of themselves. And not everyone is comfortable satirizing themselves.

Mayfield has embraced the fantastic writing for his commercials, almost getting us to believe he actually lives in FirstEnergy Stadium. His wife, Emily, has also embraced commercial stardom, and most of the At Home with Baker Mayfield series features the pair adjusting to their new NFL and homeowner lives (with many appearances from Bobby the Groundskeeper, too).

As I mentioned, the writing for the commercials is excellent, as it is with most Progressive series, but the writing can only take you so far. The actors in all of the commercials have to sell it well – and Baker and Emily have been up for the task.

Progressive’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney even told before the first At Home… commercial came out that “we saw something special with him and set out to showcase his story, and our brand, in a different light. To that end, we tossed out the typical ‘athlete-as-spokesperson’ model and took a more modern, content-rich and episodic approach that’s characteristic of today’s network shows.”

Baker has also featured in other football-related commercials (most notable the Heisman House series), but he could easily go beyond needing the football references, as Peyton has post-retirement.

He could do well as an actor in a television series, or at least a supporting character in films (à la Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neil). And that’s no small thing considering his up-and-down career behind center so far, with many questioning his talent and job.

While he has yet to bring glory back to the Browns, as many have hoped and predicted, Baker has given us a true treat since his NFL debut. I really hope he elevates his play so that we can continue to see the Mayfields “at home” for a long time to come. And don’t be surprised to see him on your screens after his football career either.

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